Everyone seems to have an opinion about LeBron James these days. From TV analysts to NBA owners (ahem! Dan Gilbert) to current and former NBA players, there’s been an avalanche of criticism laid down at the feet of LeBron.
Former player and current TNT analyst Steve Kerr offered his opinion of the Miami Heat star, and it wasn’t exactly uplifting. Kerr compared LeBron to Scottie Pippen as a shooter, which is not a compliment by any means, and examined what is wrong with James’ overall game.
“Phil Jackson used to call Scottie a ‘sometimes shooter.’ Sometimes they would go in, sometimes they wouldn’t. That’s how it is with LeBron,” Kerr said. “He’s a great talent and a great player but you can see his flaws as a basketball player.
“He doesn’t have an offensive game that he can rely on: no low-post game, no mid-range jump shot so when the game really gets tough he has a hard time finding easy baskets and getting himself going. That’s what Michael did in his sleep so that’s why the comparison is wrong.”
Kerr is on point with his critique of LeBron’s offensive game. The reason why Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was able to put small guards such as Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and even J.J. Barea on James was because he didn’t think the self-proclaimed king can exploit that mismatch in the low post. And he didn’t. At 6-8, 265 pounds, LeBron can be an unstoppable force in the paint if he ever develops a low-post game, something Michael Jordan did seamlessly in the latter part of his career.
Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki were able to expand their games in the low block, saving their legs from having to constantly beat guys off the dribble drive. Even Dwyane Wade has a post-up game, which he turns to from time to time when he sees an advantage. If LeBron is going to evolve as an offensive force, Kerr is absolutely right. He needs to develop a post-up game.
Kerr says Jordan certainly benefited from playing three years under the great Dean Smith at North Carolina, polishing his understanding of how to play with a structured offensive system. LeBron came into the league when he was 18, so he never got rid of some bad habits he picked up in high school and at the AAU level.
“Michael had three years at North Carolina with Dean Smith. That makes a big difference,” Kerr said. “I think he was brought up at a time when there was probably better development at a young age in terms of coaching. I think LeBron is a product of the AAU system where you rely on your athleticism, you go and play 100 games a year but maybe you don’t focus on your weaknesses and what you need to lock in on.
“As a result, fundamentally and technically, LeBron has some flaws. He has to address those. If I were him I would spend all summer down on the low block shooting jump hooks and turnaround jump shots – the entire summer.”